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How Did Killing US Man Affect Sentinelese? Officials Want Experts to Decode Tribe's New Behaviour

Some of the questions being sought by investigators are: What is the tribe’s reaction to death/mourning? How do they react when they lose their own people? What is their reaction to killling someone? What kind of weapons do they possess?

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:December 3, 2018, 12:59 PM IST
How Did Killing US Man Affect Sentinelese? Officials Want Experts to Decode Tribe's New Behaviour
Three months before an American tourist was allegedly killed by the primitive Sentinelese tribe, the central government had reversed its ‘eyes on hands off’ policy and lifted restrictions to visit the island in a bid to boost tourism.

Kolkata: Concerned about the psychological impact that the killing of US national John Allen Chau may have had on the Sentinelese Tribe, the Andaman and Nicobar administration has sent a list of 15 questions to the Anthropological Survey of India and tribal experts across the globe.

Previously, whenever the tribe members killed an outsider, they hooked the dead bodies on bamboo stakes facing the sea as a warning to the outside world. They did so in 2006 when two fishermen strayed into their Island. But they didn’t follow the practice in John’s case, the officials said, pointing at the seemingly new behavioural change.

To understand this, a team of investigators — a which includes police, senior administrative officials, tribal welfare experts, and officials from Anthropological Survey of India —has sent a questionnaire to experts all over the world.

“We are trying to find out if there are any behavioural change among the Sentinelese people since the John’s killing. In 2006, a week after they killed the two fishermen, the Sentinelese dug out their bodies and hooked them on bamboos facing the sea. We are looking into why they didn’t do the same this time. One theory is, there may be changes in their behavioural pattern. Another is, they are more alert now,” Dependra Pathak, DGP, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, told News18.

Some of the questions being sought are: What is the tribe’s reaction to death/mourning? How do they react when they lose their own people? What is their reaction to killing someone? What kind of weapons do they possess? What is the range of their weapons? Can they swim in deep waters? What is the impact on these tribes if the outsiders land on their Island? Does the advisability of approaching them affect their health, psychology?

“During our second trip to the North Sentinel Islands, the Sentinelese looked protective and extra vigilant. Therefore, we want to know many aspects of their life including the range of their weapons and psychology,” a senior official of Andaman Nicobar Tribal Research and Training Institute (ANTRI) said.

Meanwhile, the local police officers are reconstructing the entire 31-day stay of John Allen Chau in Port Blair. “We are making a list of the entire set of people we met, hotels, restaurants and tourist places he visited, his shopping list, travel routes, food habits and phone details to understand the detailed planning behind his North Sentinel mission,” Pathak said, adding, “We want to be ready with the entire ‘Mauka Naksha’ (circumstantial evidences/ground reality).”

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| Edited by: Divya Kapoor
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